STI, Markets and Ethics — How to Become a Leader of the High-Technology Markets?

According to the concept of the National Technology Initiative, Russia is to become the leader in nine high-technology markets by 2035. Can a country accomplish that in 20 years, or will it always be lagging behind? Are there enough social and economic resources for that? And do the Russian people need it at all? Experts shared their opinions on these problems during the recent "Technological Revolution" forum in Saint Petersburg.

Dmitry Peskov, Agency for Strategic Initiatives

When speaking of the industrial revolution, it's all quite simple: all revolutions are about ethics and justice. And never about industry. That is why a strictly industrial revolution is impossible in Russia — neither in the whole country, nor in a single city. All the technological stages of this process have already been developed: digitalization, "smart" materials, and management technologies. In Russia, we already have the first two, but not the latter, and those are all about ethics and justice. We've imported several words that have become techno-memes, and some seek salvation in them: once, it was "crowdsorting", now its "agile". A direct import of western technologies is a negative experience, and the synthesis of these approaches generates most unexpected results. It is really strange: any sound plan, when realized, changes to its opposite. It feels like destroying something to create everything anew has become a trend — just like in the 19th century. Can Russia compete with the USA in destruction? That is the key question.

Alexey Borovikov, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

In the upcoming future, people who will embody this "destruction" will be especially important — those who use revolutionary approaches. Surely, the change will take a lot of time, as the old system will protect itself: no one wants to be left out. But there's no other way. To overcome this resistance, new problems and challenges will be necessary — those that can be solved only by new technologies like digital design, metamaterials, robotics, etc. If we want Russia to become the leader not only in nuclear and aerospace industries, these problems are to be worked on.

Petr Shedrovitsky, "Rosatom" state enterprise

We have a good understanding of what was before, and we don't really know what will be after. Using the experience of our colleagues, we can create institutions of social and economic development faster, but they can as well become a hindrance in the future. For example, our high-speed trains go at 135 km/h, when in Paris it’s up to 300 km/h and in Japan — up to 400. We've still to learn how to accept the future. Just look at this terrible built-up in Devyatkino and Murino (new residential areas in Saint Petersburg -Ed.). The past draws us back, and I don't know any event when a revolution was based on a previous formation. Powerful lobbies in different fields do everything to prevent new technologies from being introduced. Or look at what’s happening in Russian universities, that look with hope at everything. Personally, I don't understand how they can create anything new, as they still use the old system there — something of a prison camp or a hospital. You know that university buildings were built so that they could be used as hospitals? That is why in some countries, new industrial and social clusters are created in new places. What binds us is our way of thinking, our lifestyles and habits.

Vladimir Vasilyev, Rector of ITMO University

As of now, I can't say that our country is getting ahead of its competitors in any field. It's more like we're collaborating with others in different projects and inventions. As for who "orders" the new technologies, we shouldn't forget about humanity in general, about people's environment, in all senses. Some of the human values remained since the old times, and that's not something to be scared of. Some priorities can remain unchanged — for both single individuals and whole communities, but the society can always choose how it will develop. STI is a glimpse into the future, and we should not forget about human life space, both inner and outer. We have to bring up engineers, developers, designers, as well as develop art and introduce it into science — as art is sometimes better at predicting the future than any analysts.

Sergei Movchan, Vice-Governor of Saint Petersburg

Someone has to build our high-technology future. So, there's the question with personnel. And to train this personnel (some of the new professions don't even have a name yet), we need teachers. So, do we have such teachers? Now, technification is at large. But will it be any good for the society, if we'll free people from hard labor, from many kinds of employment? I'm not a retrograde, I understand that the technological revolution has to be. But who will we become afterwards? "Smart" consumers? That even sounds strange. So, we can't ignore the problems of personal development in this new society.

Maksim Meiksin, head of the Committee for Industrial Policy and Innovations

There are 23 thousand different industrial enterprises in Saint Petersburg. About 10% of Russian science is also based in our city. When creating new markets and establishments, we have to build on what we already have. In Saint Petersburg, there's a lot of potential in what has to do with personnel, — that's why here, we can develop several sectors that can't be developed in other regions — sectors like IT or pharmaceutics. Here, we have the necessary technological and intellectual base to become leaders in almost all STI markets.

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